The rise of paid communities. What's going on?

You might be mistaking audience vs community. When you follow a specific founder, buy their book, join their course etc you're buying access to that specific person and their experience. That's not automatically a community. A true community is founder-agnostic. It doesn't matter who the founder is.

This was originally a comment written in response to this post on Indie Hackers:
You might be mistaking audience vs community.
When you follow a specific founder, buy their book, join their course etc you're buying access to that specific person and their experience. That's not automatically a community.
A true community is founder-agnostic. It doesn't matter who the founder is.
Do you come to Indie Hackers primarily because of Cortland Allen? Do you follow any subreddits because of who the moderators are?
This is actually a really good litmus test to differentiate "fake communities" (really audience-based products in disguise) vs communities who's value comes from the other members and the content which they create.
When choosing a good community to join, look for:
  • Members who you'd want to meet.
  • An emphasis on creating smart connections and opportunities to collaborate.
  • Resources & information which are difficult to find elsewhere.
  • A high conversation:self-promotion ratio within the community.
My background:
I run a paid community called Indie Worldwide which I started as a wantrepreneur (wannabee entrepreneur).
My business credentials before starting this group are limited to a small consulting company which I grew to low 6-figures revenue (e.g. not SaaS).
I don't think anyone is joining Indie Worldwide specifically to talk to me (you can do that for free on Twitter or here) and you'll have to search our landing page real hard to find any mention of myself.
So why do people join Indie Worldwide?
  • For the last three years we've had one of the most consistently active and helpful private Slack groups on the internet for bootstrapped startup founders.
  • The other founders in the group are really impressive and when you join I make smart introductions to connect you with founders making similar revenue and who have shared interests.
  • We regularly invite founders with million ARR+ businesses and deep skill-sets for private Q&A's.
  • We've fostered partnership deals with SaaS services you probably want to use to get over $20,000 in free credits and discounts.
I believe my primary value-add is being a super-connector: bringing together smart people, negotiating for group-discounts, sourcing speakers and mentors, and any other thing that make zero sense for any individual founder to do as a full-time job themselves.
So, you be the judge. Is it worth it?

Thanks for reading 👋🏻
I’m also tweeting at @AnthonyCastrio and running a community for bootstrapped founders at Indie Worldwide where I make curated introductions between founders based on their revenue and goals.
See you there,
Anthony